Baumkuchen is a traditional Christmas dessert in Germany. It is a kind of layered cake with characteristic rings that appear when sliced resembling tree rings. That gave the cake its German name, Baumkuchen, which literally translates to "tree cake". Traditionally, Baumkuchen is made on a spit by brushing on even layers of batter and then rotating the spit around a heat source.
The traditional version of Baumkuchen requires special equipment normally not available in an average household. So a simpler horizontally layered version of the cake also exists and can be baked in a conventional household oven that has a broiler inside. It has horizontal layers instead of circular rings. More information about on Wikipedia.
Baumkuchen is not very difficult to make but it is extremely time-consuming. That’s why people rarely do it at home. That’s why it is an impressing gift!
I did it on the weekend to pamper my dear who loves Baumkuchen and he was extremely happy with the result. So was I. I managed to make 16 layers but I am pretty sure to achieve 20 the next time.
You will need:
250g ground almonds
2 vanilla sticks
1,5 tablespoons rose water
1,5 tablespoons cherry brandy
0,5 teaspoon ground cardamom
1,5 tablespoons cacao powder
1,5 tablespoons rum
For the icing:
½ glass of apricot jam (only the liquid, no pieces)
400g chocolate to your taste. I think dark chocolate is the best but feel free to experiment. I took one with 70% cacao and almond crocant. The bumps you see on the chocolate surface in the pictures are the crocant pieces.
4 teaspoons cacao-butter
1. Separate yolk from the egg white. Put 6 yolks into one cup and another 6 into another. Put egg whites aside. You will need 2 equal parts of dough in 2 separate bowls so in the beginning you will have to do everything twice.
2. Put 250g butter and 250g sugar and stir until the mass gets creamy. One after one add 6 yolks. Stir. Add 125g ground almonds and 125g flour. Add vanilla from one vanilla stick. Repeat the whole thing to create the second portion of the dough.
3. Add rose water, cherry brandy and cardamom to the first portion of the dough. Stir.
4. Add cacao and rum to the second portion of the dough. Stir.
5. Beat the egg whites and fold in half of it into every portion of the dough.
6. Put some baking paper into a baking form to cover exactly the bottom of it.
7. Put a very thin layer of one dough onto the bottom of the form and bake (preferably in the grill mode) until firm. Take it out, apply a very thin of the second dough and bake until firm again. Repeat until you are out of dough.
8. Let the cake cool down in the form then extract it with caution. I put a cutting board on top of the form and turn it around. You will see that the layer you made first is pretty hard. No wonder, it has been in the oven all the way through. No problems! Heat the apricot jam and apply it on the top and the sides of the cake, preferably with a brush. Be patient and let the cake suck up most of the moisture (2-3 hours or overnight). Cut the cake into pieces. I did cut it into 8 pretty big pieces but you can also make them much smaller. Just keep in mind that you will probably need more chocolate to cover smaller pieces.
9. Heat the chocolate in a bain-marie. Don’t boil the water! Chocolate shouldn’t get too hot. Ideal temperature for the chocolate to melt is between 38 and 41 grad Celsius. Melt the chocolate together with cacao butter (helps the chocolate to keep shiny look afterwards but doesn’t really add to the taste, so you can skip it when you want). Let the chocolate cool down to 30-32 degrees Celsius and apply it onto your Baumkuchen pieces with a brush.
You can keep the Baumkuchen for up to several weeks. You can also bake it long ahead. In this case freeze it for as long as you need without applying jam & chocolate and cover it after you defrost it.
Whenever I see any vegetables I have never seen in a supermarket, I just have to by them! There wil be enough time afterwards to figure out how to cook them, I think. Well, here it is - black salsify, also called winter asparagus. It turned to be pretty tricky to clean but it was worth it. More about this veggie on wikipedia.
Yesterday I went to a little Christmas Market in the neighbour village. It was small, and cute, and all improvised and handmade. There was one lady, who started making cookies in her home kitchen by the end of October. Every evening she was coming home from work just to spend her free time making another recipe. She managed to create 36 arts of cookies!!! Wow, just WOW!!! Of course I had to buy them. Surprisingly they are so yummy...
oh, that moment!